Aron Struminksi: Poland head-hunted Taunton Titans winger via Facebook

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Aron Struminksi was head-hunted by Poland's rugby coach via Facebook

When you receive a social media message from someone overseas that you don't know, pressing 'delete' might be the first thing that comes to mind.

But for Aron Struminksi, a community coach with Exeter Chiefs, reading on has led to an unexpected opportunity to become an international rugby player.

The Taunton Titans winger was approached by Duaine Lindsay, head coach of the Poland national team, through social media, asking if he might qualify to play for the country.

And he has since gone on to win his first two caps for the White and Red.

"When I saw that message in my inbox, I thought 'this can't be for real'. I thought it was a bit of a hoax," Struminski told BBC Points West.

"But I did my research, and he was who he said he was. He asked me if I was Polish because my surname does sound Polish.

"He then needed some evidence to show that my grandad was born in Poland. But when my grandad moved over during the Second World War, he burnt his birth certificate and burnt his passport.

"Thankfully, my parents had a slip from his [arrival] in England, showing his full name, his date of birth and where he was born. From there, I got invited over. It was all very fast and all very sudden."

Aron Struminksi
Aron Struminksi (left) in international action for Poland

Struminski had never been to Poland before attending a training camp, and on arrival he immediately encountered a language barrier.

"Initially, a lot of them didn't really say a lot to me. I had a bit of a panic so I spent the evening learning the basics of Polish: hello, goodbye and good morning," he said.

"The next morning, I went down and I said 'good morning' in Polish. There was a bit of shock. By the end of the week, it turned out they all spoke really good English. It was just a matter of gaining their respect.

"It's a real honour to play for the country from where I have so much heritage."

Struminski made his international debut in a 33-0 win over Lithuania on 3 November, before playing his second game in a heavy loss to the Netherlands later in the month.

Aron's grandfather, Ivan
Aron's grandfather, Ivan, left Poland during the second world war

So how did he fare when he made his international bow?

"He fitted in really well. The guys took to him. He learned the first verse and the chorus of the national anthem," Lindsay said.

"He's very, very quick. If he gets a bit of space then he can really move and, in the couple of games that he's played, he made three or four breaks and really got the crowd on their feet."

Struminski's club have regional pedigree, with Taunton fourth in National League Two South, after five wins from their 13 league matches so far this term.

The Somerset side's head coach Tony Yapp added: "Giving the guys the opportunities to play, learn, get better and play at the highest level they can is what it's all about.

"For the other players to see someone like Aron push on and get international honours, it's massive, not just for Aron, but also for the others players in the squad. We've got a young squad and a very ambitious group of players."

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